BOSTON – House Speaker Robert DeLeo said yesterday he is reviewing the state’s sex offender laws, and is considering stalled legislation supported by Attorney General Martha Coakley that would make the identities of the lowest level sex offenders public.
In the aftermath of allegations against a Wakefield man accused of raping and sexually abusing more than a dozen children in his wife’s Wakefield day-care business, DeLeo said he has not made a definitive decision about whether information on Level 1 sex offenders should be available to the public.
Before he proposes legislation, he is looking at what types of offenses are classified under each level, he said. There are three levels of sex offenders under state law.
John Burbine, charged last week with raping and sexually abusing children cared for by his wife at her unlicensed daycare, was classified as a Level 1 sex offender. Information about Level 1 offenders is not currently available to the public.
Burbine’s alleged crimes are “so repulsive to me, we’ve got to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” DeLeo told reporters.
DeLeo said he wants lawmakers to look at the issue, which has failed to gain traction during this two-year session, as soon as the new session begins in January.
“We can hopefully in a quick fashion take up how this happened, and what laws have to be changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again, if a change in legislation would do anything,” DeLeo said. “I’m told, according to what I’ve reported from the governor, no matter what law was passed, it would not have stopped this.”
DeLeo said he is troubled by the fact that Burbine was classified as a Level 1 sex offender because he was convicted in 1989 of assault on a child under the age of 14 years old. “This gentleman, if he was considered Level 1, should not have been considered Level 1,” DeLeo said.
“My first question is how could this happen? How could this gentleman, who was convicted of that type of crime, be considered a level 1 offender?” he said. “Is this a question of he was not placed in the proper classification, or do we have to strengthen our laws to make sure these types of folks are not out there again.
“Whatever it is going to take, we are going to do it,” DeLeo added.
Burbine, 49, allegedly videotaped himself as he raped and sexually abused 13 small children — some as young as 8 days old, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone’s Jr. office. He was indicted on 100 counts last Thursday. He is now being held in a Billerica jail under close observation. Leone described the case as “among the worst cases of child abuse ever prosecuted” by the county office.
Gov. Deval Patrick proposed a bill this legislative session that would have made more information public about convicted sex offenders.
Under Patrick’s bill, information about Level 1 offenders would have been made public to anyone who called the local police, similar to how level 2 information is handled.